Sunday, March 23, 2014
Founder of Westboro Baptist Church Fred Phelps dies aged 84
Fred must have been as much hated as Osama bin Laden. America loves its heroes -- rightly -- and Fred poured scorn on them. But I wonder if any of those who condemn him have actually listened to any of his sermons? He was an old-fashioned hellfire preacher who was careful to support everything he said by reference to Bible texts. He was perhaps the last remnant of a once-dominant American preacher tradition.
There is no doubt that he aimed to shock and he certainly achieved that but theologically he was literally correct. Fred didn't whitewash the Bible. He preached it. And if you doubt that read Romans chap. 1 to get God's attitude to homosexuals and Ezekiel 33 for God's expectation of his representatives. God's representatives had a duty to warn the ungodly about their sins and any failure to warn was itself a deadly sin. Fred accepted that duty and discharged it. There was nothing wrong with Fred's theology.
And if you think Fred was going over the top in warning that whole nations who defended homosexuality would be destroyed by God, ponder the fate of the tribe of Benjamin. The homosexuals of Gibeah set in train a series of events which brought down great wrath and destruction on their tribe. The tribe of Benjamin was almost wiped out when it would not disown its homosexuals (Judges chaps. 19 & 20). America now is in a state of decline too. Does it too need a moral reformation to save it? Was the election of Obama a triumph of the Devil? Fred was in no doubt about all that.
If you believe in the Bible (I do not) Fred was right. He was a faithful servant of his Lord. I sometimes wonder if there are any real Bible students left
Fred Phelps, who founded the Westboro Baptist Church known for its anti-gay sentiments and protests at soldiers' funerals, has died, his son said on Thursday.
The 84-year-old, who founded the church is 1955, died of natural causes in Kansas at 11.15pm on Wednesday, according to church spokesman Steve Drain.
Previously he said that that Phelps was being cared for in a Shawnee County facility.
His passing comes just days after another son, Nate Phelps, took to his own Facebook page to announce that his father was 'on the edge of death' at Midland Hospice house in Topeka.
Nate Phelps, who left the extreme Christian sect 37 years ago, said his father was excommunicated in August 2013 from the church for advocating more kindness toward its members.
Three of his own children ex-communicated their father, according to WIBW.
'I'm not sure how I feel about this,' Nate Phelps wrote on Facebook. 'Terribly ironic that his devotion to his god ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made.
'I feel sad for all the hurt he's caused so many. I feel sad for those who will lose the grandfather and father they loved. And I'm bitterly angry that my family is blocking the family members who left from seeing him, and saying their good-byes.'
Obamacare leaves Las Vegas man owing $407,000 in doctor bills
It looks like in this case that the computer company -- Xerox -- who built the online exchange are going to be left holding the baby. Their exchange failed to enroll a man anywhere even though it said it did so nobody else is liable. So this is going to cost Xerox huge amounts -- and may send them broke. No wonder they are lawyering up. Nobody else is picking up the tab so Xerox is just delaying the inevitable at the moment. All other Obamacre contractors must be running scared.
The hospital bills are hitting Larry Basich’s mailbox. That would be OK if Basich had health insurance. But he doesn’t.
Thing is, he should be covered. Basich, 62, bought a plan through the state’s Nevada Health Link insurance exchange in the fall. He’s been paying monthly premiums since November.
Yet the Las Vegan is stranded in a no-man’s-land where no carrier claims him, and his tab is mounting: Basich owes $407,000 for care received in January and February, when his policy was supposed to be in effect. Instead, he’s covered only for March and beyond.
Basich has begged for weeks for help from the exchange and its contractor, Xerox. But Basich’s insurance broker said Xerox seems more interested in lawyering up and covering its hide than in working out Basich’s problems. Nor is Basich the only client facing plan-selection errors through the exchange, she added.
Basich said he began trying to enroll on Oct. 1, the day the exchange website went live. Like many consumers, he fought technical flaws during multiple sign-up attempts. In mid-November he finally got through and chose his plan: UnitedHealthcare’s MyHPNSilver1. “It was like reaching the third level of Doom,” Basich said of the torturous sign-up process.
Basich paid his first premium on Nov. 21, and within days the exchange withdrew the $160.77 payment from his money-market savings account. Because Basich paid a month before the Dec. 23 deadline, his coverage was to begin Jan. 1.
Weeks ticked by, but Basich received nothing to confirm he had insurance. Nevada Health Link kept telling him he was enrolled, but UnitedHealthcare said he wasn’t in their system.
Basich’s predicament went critical on Dec. 31, when he had a heart attack. His treatment, which included a triple bypass on Jan. 3, resulted in $407,000 in medical bills in January and February that no insurer is covering.
Meanwhile, the exchange sent Basich premium invoices for January and February. He paid them both.
Basich has sought help at virtually every level of the system, from the Xerox customer-service reps who answer the phones at the exchange’s Henderson call center all the way to Gov. Brian Sandoval and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Both Sandoval’s and Reid’s offices have told him they want to help, Basich said, but there’s been no resolution so far.
The Government Is a Hitman: Uber, Tesla and Airbnb Are in Its Crosshairs
The real losers are not just the next generation of innovators but also customers who lose out on more ways of getting what they need or want
What the Invisible Hand of free-market innovation giveth, the Dead Hand of politically motivated regulation desperately tries to taketh away.
That’s the only way to describe what’s happening to three wildly innovative and popular products: the award-winning electric car Tesla, taxi-replacement service Uber, and hotel-alternative Airbnb. These companies are not only revolutionizing their industries via cutting-edge technology and customer-empowering distribution, they’re running afoul of interest groups that are quick to use political muscle to maintain market share and the status quo.
The battle between what historian Burton W. Folsom calls “market entrepreneurs” and “political entrepreneurs” is an old and ugly one, dating back to the earliest days of the American experiment. Market entrepreneurs make their money by offering customers a good or new service at a good or new price. Political entrepreneurs make their money the old-fashioned way: They use the government to rig markets and kneecap real and potential competitors. In his great 1987 book, The Myth of the Robber Barons, Folsom discusses how the 19th-century steamboat pioneer Robert Fulton quickly went from a market entrepreneur to a political one by securing a 30-year monopoly from the New York legislature for all steamboat traffic in the Empire State.
Especially in today’s sluggish economy, it’s more important than ever that market innovators win out over crony capitalists. Letting markets work to find new ways of delivering goods and services isn’t just better for customers in the short term, it’s the only way to unleash the innovation that ultimately propels long-term economic growth. After all, no country has ever regulated its way out of a recession.
Tesla has done the unthinkable not once but twice: First, it built an electric car that people actually want to buy despite a price tag north of $70,000 for its cheapest models. Second, it has the temerity to sell directly to its wealthy customers, rather than subjecting them to the ritualized hell that is known as auto dealerships. But because auto dealers account for as much as 20 percent of state sales taxes, their wishes often become legislators’ commands. At the top of their wish list? Don’t let carmakers sell directly to customers. The most glaring example of protectionism just took place in New Jersey, whose legislature added even more burdens to rules already banning the direct sales of cars to customers. Now Teslas effectively can’t be sold in New Jersey, reports The New York Times, all in the name of consumer safety and protecting competition.
News flash: Anyone who can afford a $70,000 car doesn’t need much protecting. And if you’re ready to believe car dealers when they argue that incredibly complicated rules that make it impossible for new companies to enter their market is about protecting competition, I’ve got an expensive undercoating package I want to sell you.
The app-driven car service Uber, which bills itself as “everyone’s car service” and connects drivers and riders in minutes, presents a similar threat to traditional taxi and ride services in the 30-plus U.S. cities in which it operates. Rather than fight for customers by cutting fares, increasing the number of cabs, or improving services, taxi commissioners and city councils from San Francisco to New York are instead trying to regulate Uber out of business on the grounds that it provides unfair and unsafe competition.
Never mind that Uber riders get to instantly rate their experience in a way no cab passenger ever does (just as amazingly, drivers get to rate passengers!). At the state level, California has already instituted a bevy of regulations on Uber, Lyft, and other new ride-sharing services. These range from mandatory criminal background checks for drivers, licensing via public utilities commissions, and driver training programs. Last year, Washington, D.C. officials unsuccessfully tried to squeeze out Uber with regulations on the types of cars that could carry passengers, what sorts of credit-card processing machines could be used, and how the company’s app operates.
Airbnb, a website that allows people to rent out everything from vacation homes to spare couches for short-term stays, works great for everyone but conventional hoteliers and cities trying to bilk travelers for tourist taxes. Operating in 192 countries and typically showing hundreds of thousands of offerings, Airbnb has faced stiff regulations in towns supposedly famous for their weirdness and openness to lifestyle experimentation, such as Austin, Texas (which charges hosts an annual licensing fee and limits the number of participants) and Portland, Oregon (which has banned the service in residential neighborhoods). In New York, rent-control advocates are teaming up with hospitality-industry heavyweights to try and shut down Airbnb and similar services.
If mobsters were pulling these sorts of stunts, we’d recognize the attacks on new ways of doing business for what they are: protection rackets, with state regulators rather than professional hitmen creating and enforcing rules to benefit well-connected businessmen. The real losers are not just the next generation of innovators but also customers who lose out on more ways of getting what they need or want.
Folsom’s study of political and market entrepreneurs also suggests that political entrepreneurs are ultimately unsuccessful. Indeed, in 1817, Fulton claimed that his monopoly meant that no one could ferry passengers to New York City from neighboring states. A young Corneilius Vanderbilt was hired by a Jersey businessman to challenge Fulton not in a court of law but on the Hudson River, ferrying passengers from Elizabeth, New Jersey and Gotham. Vanderbilt cheekily flew a flag from his ship that read, “New Jersey must be free.” While evading capture, Vanderbilt lowered prices and changed the business climate.
It turns out that New Jersey must be free again — to sell Teslas. And New Yorkers should be free to rent out their rooms if they want to. And Uber to drive you where you want to go. The Invisible Hand of free markets shouldn’t have to spend so much of its time slapping away the Dead Hand of political entrepreneurship.
Federal ‘Motor Voter’ Forms In KS, AZ Must Include Proof of Citizenship
A federal judge ordered the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to immediately add state-specific instructions requiring documented proof of citizenship to mail-in federal “Motor Voter” registration forms used in Kansas and Arizona.
Both states have laws requiring applicants to prove they are U.S. citizens before they are registered to vote. The federal form only requires them to swear under penalty of perjury that they are U.S. citizens.
“Because the Constitution gives the states exclusive authority to set voter qualifications under the Qualification Clause, and because no clear congressional enactment attempts to preempt this authority, the Court finds that the states’ determination that a mere oath is not sufficient is all the states are required to establish,” U.S. District Court Judge Eric Melgren said in his March 19th ruling in Wichita. (See EAC - 2014-03-19 US Dist Ct Decision Kobach v EAC.pdf)
“This is victory not only for Kansas and Arizona, but for all 50 states,” Kansas Secretary of State Kobach told CNSNews.com. “Any one of those 50 states may now choose to follow our example and require proofs of citizenship when people register to vote. There are two other states that are doing it already, Alabama and Georgia, for a total of four states.
“And I would encourage more states to do so because anytime an alien votes, it effectively cancels out the vote of a U.S. citizen.
"And you have many cases all around the country of aliens [voting], usually being manipulated by some sort of group that wants to steal an election. They’re told falsely that they are eligible to vote and then they’re coached how to vote, and it’s happening all across the country. We’re stopping it in Kansas and Arizona.”
The TSA at work
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Posted by JR at 1:44 AM